Scones in Montreal
"What's a scone?" Someone asked me this the other day and I immediately felt homesick. A scone (rhymes with gone and never bone) grounds you. It takes you home and sits you in front of a fire and tucks a blanket around your legs. It tastes of England and as you savour its delicious features - it makes you stronger. Which is why I can never resist a scone on a menu here in Montreal. Even if it has a burger on it. (more later)
|Scones and cream at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth.|
I was recently invited for Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where they always have a special tea menu in November. You have to prepare for these grand events of course. A bit of limbering up and a completely empty stomach essential. Just as well as the portions are enormous. This is part of the experience of a real afternoon tea of course. It should contain a ridiculous amount of food.
|Cakes with honey from the hotel bees.(really)|
We started with a glass of champagne (don't mind if I do) and then the three-tier tray arrived (another essential) with open-topped sandwiches (usually closed and crustless in England). Lots of sweet treats on the lower tier, including mind-blowing chocolate eclairs and then pride of place on the top were the scones and the cream. These beauties were large and I was delighted to see two of them were fruit scones. There is a dangerous trend here in Canada for the plain scone - which you rarely see back in Blighty as I remember. (A Canadian friend of mine favours the plain and was picking the fruit out of one when a waiter asked her what she was doing. He then took it away.) Well done that man.
|Scone at Camelia Sinensis|
I had a very good savoury scone recently at Camellia Sinensis on Rue Emery on the Plateau. Sundried tomato and basil. Delicious but when I asked for butter they said they didn't have any. Lost some serious points there. I'll take my own in future. Tea is top notch - it's a tea snob's paradise with a menu resembling a novel with page after page of information about tea.
|Scones in a basket. Heaven.|
At the Gryphon D'Or (5968 Monkland) they serve something called a sconewitch. "I thought scones were sweet things," says my American friend. "Not here they're not" replies the owner. This is where you can get a burger on a scone. To be fair they do both sweet and savoury versions and I cannot fault their scones with jam and cream. The scones (plain but lovely) are warm and ripped open not sliced. They come in a little basket like a newly born litter of fluffy kittens.
|Afternoon tea at Gryphon D'or.|
While eating here recently there was a hushed silence when a couple of ladies received their afternoon tea (you have to book 24 hours ahead). I asked if I could take a picture and this lady happily posed with her blini, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Loved the sandwiches cut into heart shapes too. (Lemon squares on lower tier get top marks from me.)
|Atwater market - a bottle of scone ingredients|
Everyone has their own opinion of what makes a good afternoon tea. Should there really be cream cakes? Wouldn't shortbread be better. One thing I do know - you don't buy scones in a bottle. That's what I thought until I spotted this concoction in Atwater Market. All the ingredients for a scone. I had to forgive them. They've got fruit in it.